The traditional bodybuilder uniform has always been sweat-drenched, muscle-clinging workout clothes: usually, something like gym shorts, a T-shirt, or tennis shoes
But once a bodybuilder steps outside of the gym, what exactly should they wear, especially if they’re heading anywhere with a more formal dress code? Do they have any options that aren’t made by Nike or Under Armour?
Formalwear options for muscular, V-shaped, jacked, or just plain swole men have always been very limited – until now.
Keep It Natural & Neutral
Because you’re rocking sculpted muscles from long hours in the gym, you don’t need flashy colors to make a statement. Your body makes the statement for you.
Instead, going with neutral colors would be a much better choice. You don’t have to choose only blacks and whites, desaturated colors work well too.
Try a dusky blue shirt and dark jeans for a sophisticated look. Or a white shirt with slacks for something business casual. Even without vibrant colors, there are hundreds of color combinations in bodybuilder clothing.
Find The Perfect Fit
As a muscular guy, you might feel as though going for the bigger sizes would be better. More often than not, however, the size is too big, resulting in a baggy style that doesn’t show off all the hard work you’ve put into yourself.
Don’t be afraid to wear something like a bodybuilder shirt that fits you nice and snug. Of course, going too far into the opposite extreme can make you look as though you’re about to burst out of your clothes.
As far as sizing goes, take the extra time to find that Goldilocks fitting. Not too big, but not too small.
Layers work well during the winter, keeping you warm in the cool weather. But layers don’t work quite as well for muscular guys. It introduces a sense of “bulk” that you don’t need thanks to your healthy physique.
Because you don’t need any extra help in the Hulk department, keep your outerwear and knits (especially in winter) light. With little-to-no body fat, we know the cold must chill you, so opt for layering. Say no to cable knit sweaters and downed puffer coats, which will barrel-out your chest and make you look huge.
Instead, layer with light things – long sleeve shirts, roll necks, cardigans and thin sweaters (three or four if you need) before selecting the thinnest of trenches or macs to pull the winter look together. Opt for cashmere and mohair wool, avoiding thick tweeds. Biker jackets in leather or denim are also good for casual wear and summer time, avoiding the pumped-up look of knitted wools.
Yes, you have big quads, son of Thor – but that doesn’t mean you require acres of leg room in your jeans. With fashion for muscular men, staying in tune with modern day denim, opt for a slim fit jean or more relaxed fit for those heavy-legged lads. Denim is a natural fabric and is designed to mould to your body, which is why it can take a couple of wears to ‘break’ a new pair in.
With all that training time, we know you’re persistent, but selecting a stretch denim (as opposed to raw or selvage, which tend to be rather thick) is a good option. These days, denim is your best friend, coming in so many different fits (with equally absurd names) that you may have to try a range to get one that’s best for you. Final word on denim? A cardinal sin for fashion for muscular men, avoid skinny jeans; they will break your soul before even your legs get the chance to break them first.
Tailoring is Necessary
Sometimes finding the perfect fit isn’t possible, especially in everyday run-of-the-mill clothing stores. A lot of the time, bodybuilder clothing needs tailoring to look its best.
The great thing about tailoring is that it can help in more ways than amplifying your style. It can also have interesting effects on your social and work life.
Plus, tailoring can be a huge help when you gain even more through your workouts and don’t feel like getting a whole new wardrobe.
Use Stripes to Your Advantage
Most of the time, going for printed bodybuilder clothes isn’t the best choice. On the other hand, stripes can sometimes be your friend.
Stripes have the unique advantage of tricking the eye into thinking something is wider or longer than it actually is. For example, if you want to appear taller, vertical stripes can help achieve this illusion.
Adding in a couple of stripped clothes to your wardrobe can be an asset for any stylish guy.
Ignore The Skinny Option
You may be fit and healthy, but as a muscular guy, you can’t quite call yourself “skinny” anymore. Those muscles you’ve worked so hard for bring on a bulk of their own that make skinny clothes for muscular guys a bad choice.
When buying your next set of clothes, skip over these particular styles. They’ll end up being far more trouble than they’re worth.
Brand Loyalty Makes Things Easier
Although there is a generalized standard, most clothing brands differ in one way or another against each other.
Once you find a particular brand that you enjoy, stick with it. It will make finding good fitting clothing a whole lot easier for you in the long run. Instead of spending a lot of time trying on different clothes to find the right fit, you’ll already know your size with this one brand.
Branching out is good, but having one brand to fall back on can be a major relief.
Brand Suggestions for Fashion for Muscular Men
Best Dress Shirts for Bodybuilders: Hugh and Crye
Price runs: $70-90 a shirt.
For the white collar guy or just the guy who wants to look ballin’ in his suits on a daily basis, you need a well-fitting dress shirt. I’m sure you’ve already gone to Belk and tried on some crappy Calvin Klein mass produced “slim fits”. Maybe you’ve gotten a little smarter and tried express or Banana Republic, and while they may be a little tight on the arms, they seem to look ok. Screw that, why settle for less than perfection!
I found a supplier of dress shirts that are made specifically for athletic and broad men. They literally cater to the proportions of a bodybuilder and their quality is freaking amazing.
Best dress shirts I’ve owned. I took it to a tailor a little while back just because I do that with all my clothes (you should too) and the lady said “I can’t tailor it, it’s already an excellent fit”. Hadn’t heard that one before. The best part about them is that you can wear them tucked or untucked because of the way the tail of the shirt is made. The company is called Hugh and Crye and here’s a quote directly from the story of why the formed:
We recognized that many men we know (starting with ourselves) have a hard time finding dress shirts that actually fit. ….off the rack shirts from mass brands aren’t designed for the lean or athletically built guy.
That right there should convince you. Make sure you take measurements before ordering! If you have any questions call their support line because they are extremely helpful at getting the fit perfect for you.
Best Suit for a Bodybuilder: SuitSupply
Price range: $400+
Listen. Suits are made to a tailored. Most good tailors at a suit store will be able to customize the fit for you regardless of the sizing mismatch. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some suits that rise above the rest for the price.
By far the best bang for you buck suit I’ve found thus far was SuitSupply. First of all, you FEEL like a total badass walking into their store. I won’t spoil the fun, but there are some …revealing pictures on the walls when you go into the dressing room. Anyways, the experience is surreal.
The suit itself has made impeccably well for the price and the flair is perfect. My last one from them costed about $550 for the full suit with tailoring and it looks phenomenal. The suit supply employees are incredibly skilled at their job and make a suit that fits like a glove, looks stunning, and moves as well as your horrible, bodybuilder mobility will allow.
Stop falling for the buy 1 get 20 shit suits free deal at Jos A Banks and hit up SuitSupply. Get one that you’re proud of if you’re spending money on it. I highly recommend going into a store if you have one near you. It’s wild.
Best Lower Tier Jeans for a Bodybuilder: Levi 511 or 514
Price range: $40-60
This one is a bit up in the air because it really depends on your style and you taper. However, I personally prefer the 511’s. I also believe in skinnier jeans and having a tapered calf for a more stylish look. It plays off your frame and really shows off the quads I’ve worked so hard for.
Best fashion for muscular men For the price, you literally can’t beat the jeans. Decent quality and material and they actually look like some higher end jeans. Consider these your starter jean if you’re just getting into fashion. You can pick these up at most big box clothing retailers, but I’d buy them from amazon for the customer service, return policy, and price
Important note: Skinny jeans are not traditionally made for bodybuilders. If you try too skinny of raw denim on…well you’re not going to get them on. The Levi 511’s come in a couple of different materials. The black stretch in particular have a spandex blend in them that make them easily fit your quads while still fitting your waist. They look great, but I’ve tried on some other “raw looking” denim in 511’s only to have it fit rough and ended up sizing up a waist size.
My Recommendation: Get the dual-blended 511’s and save the raw look for the high end jeans. i.e. the black stretch which I linked above or something following that same format. If for whatever reason you have freakish proportions you can get the 511’s and then take them to a tailor. Believe it or not you CAN tailor jeans and with the price of the Levi’s, it doesn’t make them cost significantly more.
Best Upper Tier Jeans for a Bodybuilder: Rag and Bone Fit 1 or 2
I wear these jeans basically every freaking day. No joke. I alternate between my black stretch fit 1’s and the raw fit 1’s daily. If they had other options I would buy them instantly and rotate them in. Best pair of jeans I’ve ever owned. Yes, I know, the price is steep, but once you try this pair of jeans on you will never go back to any other pair again. The calves are perfectly tapered, the quads stretch, and the waste is incredible.
The branding is not noticeable and the wash is beautiful. Very functional pair of jeans if I do say so myself. I personally wear the FIt 1’s as I mentioned I like the skinny fit. However, Fit 2 is a good alternative if you don’t think you can pull those off or you’re quads are awesomely large. You can find these jeans in most Nordstrom’s, but their flagship stores carry more washes and sizes. (I’ve only found the black stretch in Nordstroms.)
Pay Attention to Your Shoulders
When going to a store to find yourself a new bodybuilder shirt or something similar, make sure the shoulders are well-fitted.
The shoulders are an important part of any shirt, and if the cloth is bunching up or stretching, it can ruin the entire look you’re going for. Once you have the shoulder size figured out, getting the rest to fit right is a breeze.
Style Around a Base of Well Fitted Clothing
It’s always nice to have a large selection of clothing you can fall back on. However, it’s always a good idea to have a base set of clothes that you can style the rest of your wardrobe around fashion for muscular men .
This set should be some of your favorite pieces and they should all have a perfect fit for your body. From this base set, you can accessorize and add to your style while knowing that you have a good base to start from.
Skip The Heavy Textures
When picking out your clothes , fashion for muscular men, try to steer clear of any heavy textures. This includes things like knitting, crocheting, thick cloth, or anything with a busy pattern.
All of these will sit on your muscular form in a strange way. They will hide the contours of your muscles and instead will make your body appear bulky and shapeless.
Instead, choose men’s bodybuilding clothes that won’t hide away your hard work and accomplishments. You don’t need those kinds of patterns to take command of a room, after all.
Keep It Classic
Because you don’t fit the typical silhouette that most brands designs for, being classic instead of trendy is your best approach. A lot of retailers don’t produce fashion for muscular men, so fill your wardrobe with white crew-neck tees and neutral-hued sweaters, and slim-fit mid-wash jeans and khaki chinos with a tapered leg.
Then invest in a cropped pea coat, a minimal mac or trench that’s snug in navy or black. Keep patterns and prints obscure and let superbly cut suits and lush fabric be your style point of difference – not deep V-neck tees and zebra stripe pants.
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Also published on Medium.